Arkansas: Get Educated About Education (page 3)
Arkansas’ Blueprint for Public Education
Defining Educational Standards & Establishing Curriculum Guidelines
The Arkansas Comprehensive Testing, Assessment and Accountability Program (ACTAAP), which began with legislation by Act 999 of 1999, has become an important blueprint for education in Arkansas as it has led to significant improvement in student achievement for all grades in all schools. It is based on the premise that “all children can learn.ACTAAP is a comprehensive system that focuses on coordination of the following four areas: Ever wonder what a benchmark test or end-of-course exam looks like? The Arkansas Department of Education releases all test items from the previous year so that students and parents and teachers can better anticipate what these tests are all about. To see released items from the last several years, go to this website:
More About Benchmark Tests & Other Student Assessments
You can find information about student testing and assessment at: http://arkansased.org/testing/assessment.html
Iowa Test of Basic Skills (Norm-Reference Test or NRT)
The Student Assessment & Educational Accountability Act (Act 35 of Second Extraordinary Session of the Arkansas 84th General Assembly) requires a developmentally appropriate assessment be administered to all students in kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grades in reading and mathematics. The assessment currently used in Arkansas is the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS). The ITBS measures the skills and achievement of students from kindergarten through grade 9. Developed at The University of Iowa and with a tradition of more than 70 years of educational research and test development experience, the ITBS provides an in-depth assessment of students’ achievement of important educational objectives. Tests in reading, language arts, and mathematics provide comprehensive information both about the development of students’ skills and about their ability to think critically. The ITBS is a norm-referenced test. Students demonstrate their grasp of foundational skills by responding to a series of multiplechoice questions. The scores are reported as percentile points, meaning students perform as well as or better than a certain percentage of other students in the nation.
National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)
National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is often referred to as the Nation's Report Card. It is the only measure of student achievement in the United States that allows comparisons by state and to the national average. The performance of students in Arkansas can be compared with the performance of students across the nation or in other states. NAEP, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, has been conducted for, more than 30 years. The NAEP exams are given to students in grades 4, 8 and 12 in a variety of subjects, including reading, mathematics, writing, science, U.S. history, geography, civics, and the arts. Each of these subjects is tested periodically, with mathematics and reading assessed every two years in grades 4 and 8. The exam questions are either multiple choice or open-ended, where the students write their own responses. The NAEP exams are given to only a representative sample of the student population. About 100 schools in grade 4 and 100 schools in grade 8 are selected from every state to participate. For each subject area tested, 25 to 30 students are randomly selected from each grade. All of the data are then combined to represent all students in the state. There are no individual student results. Other Assessment Tools for Arkansas’ Public School Students
The end-of-course exams monitor the academic progress at the high school level. These assessments are administered to students at the completion of courses in algebra and geometry. ELL Language Acquisition Assessment The Federal No Child Left Behind Act requires an annual assessment of students who do not speak English as a native language to measure their oral language, reading, and writing skills in English. The State of Arkansas has adopted the MAC II Test of English Language Proficiency. The test measures proficiency in speaking, listening, reading, writing, and comprehension. The test is given during the spring to all Limited English Proficient (LEP) students enrolled in grades K-12.
Alternate Portfolios for Limited English Proficiency
(LEP) and Individual Education Program (IEP) The state’s educational standards are the same for all Arkansas students. But under certain guidelines, teachers can take a different approach to assessing the educational progress of students who are severely disabled or beginning to speak English. LEP stands for Limited English Proficient and refers to a student who doesn’t speak English as a native language and is in the process of learning English. IEP means Individual Education Program and applies to children with various disabilities or handicapping conditions. Both state and federal laws require special accommodations and programs for children who meet LEP or IEP criteria. While all students are expected to participate in the state assessments, the law recognizes that the usual tests aren’t appropriate for some LEP and IEP children. So, the state has developed the Arkansas Alternate Portfolio Assessment System as an option for evaluating the performance of these students at grades 3-8, 11, and in certain 9th grade math courses. This type of assessment involves inferring a student’s progress by reviewing a portfolio, which is a collection of the student’s work or other performance indicators over a certain period of time. This approach to assessment assures that the progress of all students is measured regularly so educators have valid information upon which to base decisions in the children’s best interests. A student’s progression from one grade to the next can be denied if the student does not receive a passing rate on the state mandated criterion reference assessment and fails to participate in his/her academic improvement plan.
- The State Board will establish proficiency levels of performance on statewide assessments for each grade level.
- Beginning in the 2005-2006 school year, any student who doesn’t pass the statewide assessments will participate in an intense remediation program tailored to meet the identified deficiencies through an Academic Improvement Plan (AIP).
- Students who don’t demonstrate proficiency on statewide assessments will participate in an AIP designed by teachers working together with the student’s parents.
- Students in Grades 1-6 who have been identified for an AIl but don’t participate in the plan to correct their deficiencies will be retained.
- Students who don’t pass end-of-course exams will participate in a remediation program to receive credit for that course. Beginning in 2009-2010 students must pass an end-of-course exam or alternative assessment in order to receive credit for the course. Students will be given several chances to pass end-of-course exams.
- Students in grades K-2 who are deficient in reading skills, based on statewide assessments, will participate in Intensive Reading Instruction (IRI) utilizing a reading program approved by the State Board of Education.
- Students will continue in the Intensive Reading Instruction until the reading deficiency is corrected.
End-of Course Exams
Q: What do all these tests mean? A: For those not meeting proficiency standards, it means (1) Intervention (2) Academic Improvement Plans
As teachers identify students who aren’t meeting proficiency expectations, intervention will be the key to continued academic progress. Smart Start is a comprehensive approach to improving reading and mathematics achievement for students in grades K-4. The goal of Smart Start is to have all children meet or exceed grade-level requirements in reading and mathematics by grade 4. Therefore, reading, writing and mathematics shall be incorporated into all curriculum areas for these early grades. All students shall receive instruction annually in the following subject areas:
- Language Arts
- Social Studies
- Tools for Learning
- Fine Arts
- Practical Living Skills/Career Exploration
- Health & Safety Education and Physical Education
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- Child Development Theories
- Signs Your Child Might Have Asperger's Syndrome
- 10 Fun Activities for Children with Autism
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- First Grade Sight Words List
- Social Cognitive Theory
- The Homework Debate
- GED Math Practice Test 1